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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

THE DARK AGES                         icx

learning was no longer the cultivated man of affairs but the educa-
ted clerk ; and all the secular business of society which required
the highest learning for its performance fell as a matter of course
into the hands of Churchmen.

The clerical monopoly of education established in the age
of transition from the ancient world to the modern lasted for
more than a thousand years, and its effects on the intellectual
life of Europe were tremendous. The most obvious result
was the general restriction of learning within the boundaries
fixed by the Church's interests and doctrines. The suspicion
with which secular literature was regarded in the first Christian
centuries gradually passed away, as the pagan faiths with which
that literature had originally been allied dwindled into mere
memories of a remote past. But even when the Church had
broadened its ideals to permit studies not strictly religious in
character or in aim, it frowned persistently on all ventures in
philosophy and science which seemed likely to be inconsistent
with the central articles of its faith. The consequence was
that intellectual inquiry was compelled to spend its forces for
several centuries in the rediscovery of the classical learning, and
in the systematizing and re-statement of it in terms conformable
with the Christian religion as interpreted by the Church. The
time came when this enforced limitation of thought imposed a
serious check on the forward movement of the human spirit.
But for the Dark Ages (ending sometime about the Eleventh
Century) it proved an almost unmixed blessing. It was an
admirable discipline that the peoples which were the forerunners
of the modern nations had to undergo in extracting the knowledge
that met their needs from the intellectual achievements of the
past,

2. THE PART PLAYED BY MONASTICISM

The details of the development of clerical education from its
earliest and narrowest form till it resulted in an education for
all sections of the community are for the most part hidden in
a mist of uncertainty. Contemporary records of any kind are
few; and chronicles written a considerable time after the events
they narrate, from which information about this period must
for the most part be drawn, are generally an uncritical medley